- 1 fresh turkey, 12 to 15 pounds
- 1 gallon water
- 2⁄3 cup kosher salt
- 1⁄4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, or 1 cup fresh apple juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 or 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- Water or unsalted poultry stock
- Mixed Rice Jambalaya or Rye Bread and Apple Stuffing
- 3 or 4 ribs celery, cut into 4-inch lengths
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 4-inch lengths
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 1⁄4 cup melted vegetable shortening or vegetable oil
- 1⁄2 cup dry sherry , dry white wine, or not-too-tannic red wine (optional)
- 4 cups poultry stock
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: About 4 hours
Total time: 5 hours
Remove and discard any wire or other clamp holding the turkey legs. Remove the giblets and any excess fat from the main and neck cavities; set aside the giblets for now. Remove the kidneys, if present (inside the cavity tucked in on either side of the backbone).
Rinse the bird well and drain.
Combine the brine ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt.
Place the turkey in a strong, food-grade plastic bag (the one you brought it home in is fine), pour in the brine, and gather up the bag to surround the turkey and expel all the air. Seal the bag with a twist tie, set in a large bowl or other container to catch any leaks, and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight.
At your leisure, rinse the giblets (the gizzard and heart, plus neck if you like, but not the liver), put them in a saucepan with water or stock to cover, and simmer until tender, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. This can be done on brining day or roasting day, whichever is more convenient.
Remove the turkey from the brine approximately 3 hours before serving time; drain, rinse, and pat dry.
Line a roasting pan (disposable is fine) with celery, carrots and onions to form a “roasting rack” and lay the turkey on top. Let stand at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Just before roasting, spoon the stuffing loosely into the turkey cavity, leaving at least an inch of airspace. Put another spoonful into the neck cavity. Tuck the wingtips behind the back, trapping the neck skin. Fold a piece of cheesecloth 3 or 4 layers thick to cover the turkey breast and slowly spoon enough oil or melted shortening over the cloth to saturate it.
Place the turkey in the oven, legs toward the hotter part (usually the back) and roast at 350˚F (325˚F for larger birds) 12 to 15 minutes per pound, or until the breast and thigh meat both register 160˚F. Baste once or twice during the roasting time, and remove the cheesecloth after the first hour so the breast skin will brown evenly.
While the turkey roasts, check the giblets for tenderness. When tender, dice finely; reserve the stock for gravy.
Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a platter or carving board. The oven is now available for final baking of side dishes. If the stuffing is not up to 160˚F, remove it from the turkey and bake it a little longer in a buttered casserole, preferably one that can go to the table. Cover the turkey loosely with foil to keep it warm.
Strain the drippings from the roasting pan into a deep heatproof container (preferably glass); discard any loose vegetables, but leave any that are stuck to the pan for now.
Add the optional wine or 1⁄2 cup stock to the roasting pan, set the pan over a stovetop burner, and bring to a boil, scraping up and dissolving the browned drippings (this is what recipes call “deglazing”).
Gradually add 4 cups stock (this can include the broth from cooking the giblets), stirring to incorporate the deglazed drippings. Remove from the heat. Spoon 3 tablespoons fat from the strained drippings into a saucepan. Heat until a pinch of flour sizzles on contact, then stir in the flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture (roux) cooks to an even golden brown. Meanwhile, discard the remaining fat from the pan juices, either by ladling it off, by drawing the juices out from under the fat with a bulb baster, or with a gravy separator.
When the roux is browned, gradually add the (strained) liquid from the roasting pan, whisking to dissolve any lumps of roux, and then stir in the defatted drippings.
Add the diced giblets, taste for seasoning and correct if necessary, and simmer until the gravy is smooth and well flavored.
Carving a turkey at the table is impressive, but it’s much easier to do it away from the table where there is more room. After showing off the whole turkey (oohs and ahhs), set the platter next to a cutting board, preferably one with a groove for the juices. Cut the skin where a leg lies next to the breast and pull or twist the leg away from the body; if you need to pry or twist, use the carving fork rather than the knife for leverage. Carve off good-sized pieces of drumstick and thigh meat and transfer to a second warm serving platter. Make a horizontal cut just about the wing, then a shallow cut along the ridge of the breastbone. With the fork, gently separate the whole breast half from the bone, cutting it free with the tip of the knife. Transfer the breast to the cutting board and slice crosswise, catching a bit of skin with each slice. Let the slices land like shingles for now, then slide the knife under a bunch of them and transfer to the platter. Cut off and divide the wing and add it to the platter. Cut and add any large bits left on the carcass. Decide whether there is enough on the platter for a first serving for everyone, and if so, wait until time for seconds to carve the other side.
- Leek and Potato Soup
- Cider-Brined Roast Stuffed Turkey with Giblet Gravy
- Rye Bread and Apple Stuffing
- Mixed Rice Jambalaya
- Cranberry-Orange Relish
- Maggie Klein’s Squash Gratin with Garlic and Olive Oil
Also from The Microbrew Lover's Cookbook:
The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook
From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.